Cards battle Storm Dennis to end horrific away run

William Bewsey
12:00am, Sat 15th Feb 2020
Notts County 1 Woking 1
Vanarama National League
15th February 2020

The Cards travelled to Meadow Lane on a stormy day (only three games were on across the league) with their hosts in fine form and sitting 7th, whereas Woking had lost their last 7 games on the road. Alan Dowson decided that changes were needed, six to be exact following defeat to Eastleigh two weeks prior. Godfrey Poku, Shaun Donnellan and Josh Neufville were on the bench, Jake Hyde missing out with a calf injury, whereas Jayden Harris and Manny Parry were not in the 16. Alex Wall, Max Kretzschmar, Ben Gerring, Jack Cook, Dave Tarpey and new signing Ben Dempsey from Charlton were put into the squad, and these changes had some Cards fans puzzled, as Poku in particular had been a regular in the past couple of months.

344 Woking fans made their way through the conditions to Nottinghamshire, and they were making themselves heard even before kick off. The game began with Woking pushing positively and winning set pieces, a trait which would be displayed throughout. However, six minutes in, Kyle Wooton played a lovely ball through to Kristian Dennis, whose shot was well saved by the feet of Craig Ross. Notts were passing the ball well, and a lovely passing move saw Dennis receive the ball on the edge of the box, and his curling shot went just past the far post of Craig Ross.

Woking continued to press, and to show Notts that they were not going to roll over. Ben Gerring got himself in the book after bringing down Jim O’Brien. Shortly after, a cross by Josh Casey caught the wind and bounced off the crossbar, almost landing at the feet of several Woking players at the back post. A couple of deflected strikes followed from the Notts players, as Woking were successfully frustrating their opponents - who were finding it hard to push forwards - and the 4,700 Notts fans. Woking had to stay alert though, as Dion Kelly-Evans delivered a good cross which was nodded down by Cal Roberts, but just as it looked like the ball would fall to Dennis in a good position, Ben Gerring managed to get his foot to the ball, a crucial interception.

On 42 minutes, a Woking corner was whipped in by Kretzschmar, and a free header for Jack Cook went over the bar, a chance which should’ve gone on target. Josh Casey brought down Roberts outside the box with one minute of added time to play, but luckily for Woking, nothing came of the opportunity, and a solid first half from Woking came to an end.

Half-time: Notts County 0 Woking 0

The second half began with sustained Woking pressure, and on 50 minutes, Woking had their big moment. A wonderful fizzed in ball from Dempsey was met by the head of Max Kretzschmar, and the ball nestled in the bottom corner via the far post, and sparked wild scenes in the Woking end. Dempsey was involved in the next action as he was fouled by Kyle Wooton, who joined Casey and Gerring in the book.

Alex Wall forced the Notts keeper McDonnell into a save as Woking ramped up the pressure, before Mitch Rose joined the book following a poor challenge on Kretzschmar. Roberts forced Ross into a good save, as he whipped a ball into the box, which caught the wind and Ross had to push it behind for a corner. Jack Cook found himself in space on the edge of the County box, and drove his shot wide of goal, before Dave Tarpey was inches away from diverting Jamar Loza’s cross into the net. Loza could have had a penalty shortly after, when he was bundled over by Richard Brindley, but the referee waved it away.

Notts wasted a golden chance shortly after, as Enzio Boldewijn, who bagged a brace when the teams met at Kingfield in October, drove forward, and forced Ross into a save, but the ball fell to the feet of Roberts, who skied the ball from seven yards out, a sitter for Notts. However, pressure from Notts eventually created an equaliser. Roberts crossed low to Wootton, who set the ball to Dennis for an easy finish. Roberts found Rose on the edge of the box, and his shot was deflected wide by his own player, Notts starting to search for a winner.

Woking had an opening when Wall found space inside the box, and his shot from a tight angle forced a stop from McDonnell, who pushed the ball agonisingly wide of the far post. Jack Cook had a free header from the resulting corner, but headed wide. Notts had a penalty shout when Roberts went to ground following a challenge by Moussa Diarra, but the ref waved it away. The game ended without any other real chances, and the Cards had ended their poor run of form away from home, as the officials were booed off by the home fans.

The travelling Woking fans showed their appreciation for what had been a proper team performance, every player committed to the cause, something which has become common in Dowson’s teams at Woking. The players who had been given a chance were excellent, in particular Max Kretzschmar who never stopped going in midfield, and got himself on the scoresheet too.

Woking: 1 Craig Ross, 2 Jack Cook, 3 Josh Casey ©, 5 Ben Gerring, 6 Moussa Diarra, 7 Dave Tarpey (Shaun Donnellan 80’), 8 Kane Ferdinand, 10 Max Kretzschmar, 18 Ben Dempsey, 22 Jamar Loza, 27 Alex Wall (Josh Neufville 80)

Unused subs: 1 Sam Howes, 11 Paul Hodges, 14 Godfrey Poku

Goals: Kretzschmar 50’

Bookings: Ben Gerring 15’, Josh Casey 44’

Notts County Joe McDonnell, Connell Rawlinson, Pierce Bird, Richard Brindley, Dion Kelly-Evans, Jim O’Brien, Mitch Rose, Enzio Boldewijn, Kristian Dennis, Kyle Wootton, Cal Roberts

Goals: Dennis 71’

Bookings: Wootton 54’, Rose 56’

Referee: Samuel Barrott

Attendance: 5074 (344 Woking fans)

Man of the Match: Although Ben Dempsey put in a brilliant performance on debut, Max Kretzschmar took his chance and put in a brilliant battling performance, along with the goal, which will give Dowson a selection dilemma in midfield for next week.

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